Stranger/friend-of-a-friend I have known for a while and they really should know my name by now: “So what’s your name again?”
“I just told you what my name is.”
“I know. But tell me again.”
Big sigh, then I say: “Chris Pink.”
That irritating pause.
They shake their head: “What?”
I say nothing. They don’t really mean What? I am sick of this conversation; the apparent disbelief, the repeating it to make sure someone heard right, the repetition of it all. Like anyone out there with a slightly oscure name will be all too well aware, it’s been going on my entire life…
Then their eyes light up (but their eyes don’t really light-up, they’re not a werewolf or something; they just seem to grow bigger as their eyebrows raise slightly) and they say: “But not really. I mean, not really. Nobody’s called Pink.”
Yes — they — are. And you’re bloody looking at him!
It’s always someone with a really normal name saying this; it’s like we exist in two completely different dimensions and have just been thrown together for the day for some cruel, intergalatical game.
I usually then walk away. Unless I’m on a bus and I can’t, in which case I turn away (unless to my right are two teenagers kissing with hideous full-body-motion. Then I just stare up at the ceiling and shut my eyes until I feel able to re-open them). I’ve given up with staring at people with hatred, hoping this will register and convey my point. My face lacks expression when I do this: I know because I have given myself this face in the mirror — you need to practise when you have an odd name like I do — and it just looks like I’m a wax statue. No wonder my tormentors find it funny.
This conversation has played out since a young age (and don’t even get me started on all the nick-names…I was going to print a full list here but I decided against it in the end after I had Pinky, Stinky, Pinkywinky and Dinky…).When I was 5 or 6, I remember other children finding it funny in a good way, especially when register was called in Assembly and it meant everyone laughed and it really annoyed the adults (in those days you had to sit down with your legs crossed and only the appalingly old teachers — some as ancient and decrepit as 40 — were allowed to sit on real plastic seats behind us; hair falling off their heads, those awful long wrinkled, saggy faces of despair. Presumably because their backs were so weak that sitting on the floor would force their skeletons to cave in on themselves). My name won me a lot of friends back then and got me invited to a lot of very cool parties; parties where the birthday cake was a giant chocolate hedgehog with chocolate fingers for spikes (or a giraffe with a swiss-roll for a body and hand-made chocolate stilts for legs, my favourite!). After this came an odd time of transition; a time of indifference towards my name — from about the age of 9 or 10, when sarcasm had creeped into the playground but nobody actually knew what sarcasm was (it was like we all had a super-power but we never knew when we were using it, unless a teacher got angry, which meant we very much did know).
Then came the BIG one. As puberty approached and language like Virgin, Sex! and other ruder words became the insults of choice (if you admitted you were a Virgin nobody would speak to you for the rest of lunch-break and it was awful) my name took on a sinister new meaning and started to get tangled up with all kinds of things which made going to school an annoying thing to do: things like Pink being a girly colour, a Pinkie being a little finger which was also a bad name for a small penis — no comment — and these:
A) Pink = flowers
B) Pink = feminine
C) Pink = everything that being a teenage boy is not about. Well, at least not for me. I loved the kiss-chase with the girls, even if they hated it because I was a massive Virgin
So, from the age of about 13 to 17, I couldn’t go for more than about twenty minutes without someone reminding me that my name was either feminine, flower-like or a bit girly. Oh, and the small-penis-thing (that alone has taken about twenty years to shrug off…I dread the day that I run into a childhood friend at the supermarket).
Then came that part of childhood — actually this probably started when we were about 12 — where we all learned that people existed who liked the same sex as themselves. More than liked, LOVED! They did rude things and everything; lived in houses and all that stuff. It wasn’t like we hadn’t known this fact before (our sex education teacher had alluded to the bum being only for one thing and at the time nobody had a bloody clue what he was talking about apart from a boy called Rude Steven who was a serious skankmonger; my God how the teachers hated his skankmongerish ways…) it was just that as we were getting older, aspects of the world were becoming more crystalised and real somehow — like zombies moving out of the fog and becoming real things we all knew like walls and doors and girls who were mean and wouldn’t let you touch their bum during kiss-chase. The skirted spoilsports.
So for a few years, thanks to some bloody vikings from a thousand years ago (I am told this is where my name may originate) I had to contend with other children who thought that I had chosen my own surname; yes, I chose this name because I thought it was such a good idea and enjoyed being tormented on a daily-basis.
But it did get better one day. It got SO MUCH BETTER, pretty much over-night. Because following the horrible years of being likened to flowers and gays and small penises — usually in that order — there came that most excellent of times when girls realised that Pink was actually quite a cool name and that, if they were to marry me, they TOO could have this name! Their children could have this name! Suddenly their lives would be complete!
Ever since then it’s been bloody brilliant, frankly. Not brilliant enough to land me a stunner of a wife yet, but brilliant nonetheless, and that’ll do for me. At least until I can convince someone to buy into my legacy. Hmm…
Liked this? My debut novel is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK. Check a review out here! If you live in the UK then you can buy a paperback copy here (email me if you’d like one and you live anywhere else) and if you’d like to read the first 2 chapters, head over to here.